Special Delivery

Unique protocol allows for placement of secured dentures in one day.

Retired US Postal Service employee Wendy Johnson served for 13 years as a carrier in suburban Lutz. Curiously, she learned of the position through the mail. 

“When we first moved to the Tampa area, I received a letter that said the Postal Service was really short of rural carriers,” Wendy remembers. “At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom. I thought being a postal carrier would be an interesting thing to do, so I applied and was hired. And I loved it. I loved talking to people and meeting different people on my route. It was a good job for me.”

Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson

Wendy can’t speak as glowingly about another aspect of her life. Recently, she became highly dissatisfied with her dentures, which she has worn since losing her teeth 11 years ago. Her tooth loss was, in part, a consequence of severe anemia, a lack of healthy red blood cells for carrying oxygen to organs and tissues.

“Many people who are severely anemic develop an irresistible urge to eat things like clay or rocks,” explains Wendy, referring to pica, a compulsion often related to iron deficiency.

 “My craving was ice. I constantly chewed on ice. As a result, I chipped many of my teeth and ended up getting root canals, which ultimately failed. I went from there to cracking crowns to getting my teeth extracted. I got dentures in 2010.

“I used to use denture paste to keep them in place, but it didn’t work very well. My dentures became loose and moved around when I talked. Even though the dentures were adjusted, they were still loose in my mouth. It got to the point where I was very insecure. My self-esteem was so poor that I stopped going out.”

Wendy finally acted on her denture issue after a particularly humiliating incident in 2020.

“I was invited to dinner after church,” she recalls. “While we were talking, I started laughing and my upper teeth just dropped out of my mouth.

“My brother went to a dentist in Fort Lauderdale and got dental implants to hold his dentures secure. When I called that dentist, he asked me, How far do you live from Trinity? I know a surgeon there who’s outstanding. That’s how I got referred to Dr. Pikos.”

Two-Team Approach

Michael A. Pikos, DDS, is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and the founder of Coastal Jaw Surgery. Dr. Pikos is a global leader in dental implants and surgical reconstruction known for developing the smile restoration process called Same Day Teeth®.

Same Day Teeth allows for the placement of dental implants and new teeth on the same day. According to Dr. Pikos, the innovative treatment restores the aesthetic appearance of the smile and provides optimal functionality.

“Ms. Johnson didn’t want another conventional upper denture,” Dr. Pikos recalls. “I explained how we could give her secure permanent teeth with one surgery using our Same Day Teeth process. She agreed to move forward with it.”

Coastal Jaw Surgery employs a two-team approach. The practice’s prosthodontist, Philip J. Hedger, DMD, leads the restoration team. He designs the permanent teeth, focusing on shape, size and color to match them to the patient’s face. Dr. Pikos heads up the surgical team that extracts the patient’s failing teeth and places the implants.

Before and After

Before and After

 

“Our protocol begins with a comprehensive information-gathering appointment,” Dr. Pikos discloses. “The data we gather is shared with a digital laboratory in California, which creates the permanent teeth based on Dr. Hedger’s design. The lab also develops surgical models that guide us when placing the implants. 

“During surgery, we position either conventional dental implants, called axial implants, or zygomatic implants, which are longer, between 1½ and 2 inches long.

Axial implants are secured into the jawbone, while zygomatic implants are anchored into the cheekbone.  Zygomatic implants permit Dr. Pikos to perform Same Day Teeth on patients who lack the bone density in the jaw to secure axial implants. Both types of implants form a foundation for the permanent teeth.

“With Same Day Teeth, patients receive a temporary set of permanent teeth at the time of the surgery,” Dr. Pikos details. “They then follow a soft diet for four months, which allows the bone to grow around and bond with the implants. After four months, patients receive their permanent fixed teeth.

“Typically, no tissue grafting is necessary with Same Day Teeth, but Ms. Johnson required some bone and sinus grafting before her surgery. We ultimately placed six axial implants in her upper jaw that allowed her to have 12 permanent teeth.”

“I Feel Blessed”

Wendy is currently wearing temporary teeth. She expects to receive her permanent teeth during an upcoming appointment at Coastal Jaw Surgery. While she looks forward to the finished product, she’s quite happy with the teeth she has now.

“When Dr. Pikos put these teeth in my mouth, they felt so natural,” Wendy enthuses. “They look like my natural teeth, and I’m in love with them. I’m 150 percent satisfied with my teeth. If this is what my final set is going to look like, I’ll be very happy.

“I feel blessed,” she adds. “I pray, Lord, thank you for leading me to Dr. Pikos, Dr. Hedger and the people at Coastal Jaw Surgery. I highly recommend them. I’ve been telling everybody about them.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. Before and after images courtesy of Coastal Jaw Surgery.js
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    • Coastal Jaw Surgery

      With more than 30 years of extensive experience, their mission at Coastal Jaw Surgery is to provide excellent surgical care for their patients in a safe, efficient and compassionate manner. Their team of oral surgeons is unmatched in ex... Read More

    • Michael A. Pikos, DDS

      Michael A. Pikos, DDS, is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and a diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry and the International Congress of Or... Read More

    • Philip J. Hedger, DMD, MS

      Philip J. Hedger, DMD, MS, earned his undergraduate degree in nutrition from the University of Florida. He received his dental doctorate from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. Dr. Hedger then completed an advanced pros... Read More